The Pentagon is warning that if North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapon technology, it could have a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland soon.
During its annual report to Congress, the Pentagon said that North Korea is continuing to develop its Taepodong-2 missile, which may be able to reach parts of the U.S. The missile, assuming North Korean engineers are continuing to develop it, will have the capability to carry a nuclear payload across the Pacific Ocean if it is configured as an intercontinental ballistic missile.
In December, North Korea was successfully able to launch a rocket that delivered a satellite into space, which is an illustration of the country’s long-range missile advances.
"These advances in ballistic-missile delivery systems, coupled with developments in nuclear technology ... are in line with North Korea's stated objective of being able to strike the U.S. homeland," the report said. "North Korea will move closer to this goal, as well as increase the threat it poses to U.S. forces and allies in the region, if it continues testing and devoting scarce regime resources to these programs."
In addition, Kim Jong-un conducted a nuclear test in February, which initiated a barrage of new U.N. sanctions and a backlash of threats from Pyongyang. Over the last two months, Pyongyang has demonstrated its increasingly concerning rhetoric, which the Pentagon claims shows its willingness to "undertake provocative and destabilizing behavior."
The U.S. has bumped up security in the region, as North Korea threats included strikes in South Korea and the U.S. territory of Guam. The U.S. has also attempted to increase and improve its diplomatic relations with China in order to provide further safeguards against an increasingly unstable regime.